Friday, September 26, 2008

The Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood

Quickly catching up - I am! The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood is actually my September book for both the New Classics Challenge and the Unread Authors Challenge. (As an aside I've read my August book for the Unread Authors but I haven't posted my review because I'm waiting for my mom to finish her August book!)

Margaret Atwood has been sitting on my shelf for ages - both The Handmaids Tale and Blind Assassins. This was the perfect excuse for me to pick one of them up. After finishing The Handmaids Tale I'm sad it took me so long because it was sooo good!

The Handmaids Tale is a story about the future (a very scary future for women!) It follows the story of Offred (named so because she is the Handmaid of Fred - hence Of-fred). Women who are fertile are handmaids and are placed in homes of high ranking individuals in order to help the human population increase (hard to imagine a future where we're concerned about our population...but...) The rules are very strict as far as who you can speak to, what you can speak about, where you can go, what you can do, etc.

The story is told with Offred as the narrator. She reminices about her life prior to this "take over and change" and talks about her husband and daughter, wondering what has happened to them. She remembers life before this "regime" and what the differences are and what has changed. So you get a good perspective on how the transition occurred.

I have to say it has been awhile since I have read a book this "unputdownable". Every waking moment I had was spent reading this book (yes, that means I was reading & walking at the same time!) It was so interesting and also really scary. I mean not that I think that would happen to our society, but...neither did the narrator when she talks about her life before.

My only complaint was that the ending was a little abrupt and "unfinished" in that you don't really know what happens. Although, I guess it does really fit with the novel and what might have "really" happened. Overall, I would say this is a book NOT TO BE MISSED!!!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beloved, Toni Morrison - New Classics Challenge

I'm a little behind already in my New Classics Challenge and I've barely even begun. I was supposed to read Beloved, by Toni Morrison in August. Well, I started it in August but I didn't finish it until mid-September.

I picked this book because of all of Toni Morrison's books, I feel that Beloved is the book she is best known for. And it was 3rd overall on the New Classics Challenge list and I had read the first two books on the list so why not the 3rd! This was my 3rd Toni Morrison book.

Beloved is the story of Sethe and her daughter (or her ghost daughter). Sethe's story is one of family, slavery, relationships, pasts and hauntings. We find Sethe, her daughter Denver and her mother-in-law Baby Suggs in Cincinnati. They've escaped slavery and have made a life for themselves in this town (a somewhat solitary life but a life nonetheless). As Sethe and the other characters in the book tell the story of Sethe's life (and essentially all their lives) during slavery, her escape from slavery and what happened right after she escaped - the whole journey elvoves; the tragedy of what happened with her 1st daughter, why her family has been tormented for so many years, and the power of community.

I usually find Toni Morrison very difficult to read. Her style is very circular, you get bits and pieces of information that all come together at the end when the two ends of the circle connect, but during the read sometimes it's hard to see those connections. I've seen her speak, and she even talks circular, it's pretty amazing! However, this book was a little different. It still had it's circular aspects in that it all pieced together in the end (it came full circle if you'll allow me.) It wasn't as confusing though as I was reading it and I found myself, enjoying the story. It is not an uplifting read, it is one of those books that over and over will have you question, "If I was in her shoes what would I have done."

Overall, I thought that Beloved was a very powerful read and of all the Toni Morrison books I've read this is the first one that I would recommend. I'm glad that the New Classics challenge, challenged me to finally pick this up off my shelf and read it. I can certainly see why it could be considered a new classic!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NYRR Continental 1 Mile Race

Hello Hello! Here I am blogging about another great New York Road Runners Running Event.

I went onto to peruse one of my favorite blogs to read (Mile Markers, by Kristin Armstrong - she just has this ability to write things just as you imagine them but maybe can't find the words to describe! I love her blog!)

While I'm on there I see this big highlight for the NYRR Continental 1 Mile Road Race Sunday, September 21st. The race takes place in Manhattan and runs down Fifth Avenue from 80th Street to 60th Street.
I of course immediately forward the information on to my sister and ask her if her and Josh want to meet up with me to watch this race that will last less than 5 minutes (and in the men's case, less than 4 minutes - amazing!) They of course are on board!

We met up at 61st Street and no joke were able to get a good spot only 1 block from the finish. It was great because the announcer announced everyone that was participating in the race before the race began. There were only about 10 runners in both the women's and the men's mile race. Then he gave the play by play as they were heading towards the finish and then we got to see the finish. It was soooo cool!

Both races were incredibly close. Shannon Rowbury, an American who participated in the 1 mile in Beijin representing the USA, was neck and neck with Lisa Dobriskey of Great Britian. Unfortunately, Dobriskey edged her out in the finish. It was exciting to watch. Then the woman did a "victory lap" right past us (see picture above - Rowbury is carrying the American Flag.) Other American women running were: Erin Donohue (she also ran the 1 mile in Beijing) and Sara Hall.

We waited about 30 minutes for the men's race to start - jam packed with Olympians! Bernard Lagat, Nick Symmonds (of 800 Meter Oregonian Olympic Trials Fame), and Chris Solinksy just to name a few. Bernard Lagat and New Zealand's Nick Willis were neck and neck heading to the finish and somehow Willis out ran Lagat by one-one hundreth of a second - dang! Bernard was so gracious though - he ran down Fifth Avenue hugging the fans afterwards - it was so amazing to see. In the picture above see if you can spy Kate trying to slap five with Bernard "Bernie" Lagat!

Then as we were getting ready to part and watch some Sunday Football (boo-yah!) Who is right in front of us by Nick Symmonds - eek! Kate and mine's favorite race of the Olympic Trials was the 800 Meter (if you haven't seen it - you really should - click here). We got to meet him, congratulate him on his race, compliment him on the Olympic Trials 800M and he was gracious enough to take a picture with us (see above!)

All in all a pretty cool running day in NYC!!!